May 3, 2012

Collegetown, Commons Plunge Into Darkness With Power Outage

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Students often brag about their pre-Slope Day blackouts, but a power outage probably wasn’t what they had in mind.

Boomboxes fell silent in much of lower Collegetown Thursday night as a severe thunderstorm knocked out power to thousands of people in the Ithaca area. Party-goers had difficulty finding the best parties without the telltale thumping of a bass to guide them.

On Eddy Street and on the Commons, many darkened businesses closed early, but some, especially restaurants, found ways to keep their customers happy.

In Souvlaki House, customers were eating by candlelight. The owner, Peter Papachryssanthou, said it was only the second time in his 41 years on Eddy Street that he had to bring out the candles.

“It’s romantic,” he said with a smile. But most of his customers were ordering their dinners to go, he added.

Joe McKnight, who works at Big Time Barber Shop, on the Commons, was in the middle of cutting a customer’s hair when his store lost power.

“I’m glad I went to the bathroom before taking my clipper to his hair, because it would have been ugly,” McKnight said.

McKnight — who, like many other business owners, closed shop and stood outside his store — pointed across the Commons, where at Sammy’s Pizza, he said three of his customers were sitting in the dark, waiting for the power to be restored.

“They’re coming back for their haircuts after the power comes back,” McKnight said.

Back in Collegetown, students who had planned to spend the night before Slope Day playing drinking games suddenly found it difficult to land their pong ball in their desired cup — they blamed the darkness, not their intoxication.

“The power went out, but the party goes on,” one student exclaimed with a hint of stoicism.

Apart from the house parties, the power outage disrupted some University activities.

A Cornell Special Conditions alert that was emailed to the University community at about 9 p.m. stated that “numerous facilities off campus in the City and Town of Ithaca are without power.”

At around 9 p.m., about 2,765 — or 6.45 percent — of customers in Tompkins County were without power, according to New York State Energy and Gas.

But by 10 p.m., power had been restored to nearly everyone in the county. Music returned to the parties in Collegetown, and the rain and lightning moved beyond Ithaca.

Chrissy Boyd, Akane Otani and Liz Camuti contributed to this report.

Original Author: Michael Linhorst